Where can we avoid Madras students at lunchtime?
It is 12:55 pm on a Tuesday, you are in the Tesco on Market Street. Hunger has pried you away from a very derivative reading on the effects of the Huguenot theology on modern rave culture, and you are now idly perusing the chicken caesar wraps in the meal deal aisle. Suddenly, a familiar faint din drums in the distance. Recognising the sound, you hurry to bring a meagre feast to the self service before it is too late. It is all too late. Within the blink of an eye there is a swarm of blazered teenagers grasping at every last bottle of Lucozade, the whole supermarket is bubbling with pubescent hormones and the chatter of mock exam revision. A similar scene is developing in Greggs down the road.
If you are a student fond of buying an inexpensive lunch in town, you will be all too familiar with this daily occurrence, and perhaps you have wondered how you might mitigate the effects of the Madras College lunch break. Some would suggest a packed lunch, others may defeatedly stand in the elongated queue and come to terms with the precious minutes of their life that they have lost due to their poor planning. However, like Tony Blair before me, I would suggest an enlightened third way; buy your food somewhere else. Accordingly, I have collected a list of the finest eateries that successfully fall under the radar of the average famished Fife youth.
The Library Café
This staple of St Andrews social life is a good first choice for anyone seeking to circumvent the teen stampede. You can have a panini, a packet of crisps, and a drink for a modest fee and get back to working immediately when you are done thanks to its fantastic location in our very own main library. Unfortunately, however, at peak times this venue tends to become just as congested as Tesco’s, Greggs, or Subway. There is small consolation in that you will be among fellow melancholy students, but this is hardly appetising to the modern go-getter undergraduate.
The Union Main Bar
Nowadays main bar provides students with a wealth of sensible dining options from salads to burgers, and many more in between. Thanks to the efforts of the 2018/19 sabbatical team the cornucopia of main bar overflows with hot food and one can even enjoy a reasonably priced pint of Carling alongside their meal to get them through the next few hours of academic toil before heading to one of St Andrews’ rare, “ungentrified” pubs (do these even exist anymore? Only Archie Batra, The Saint’s own Rod Liddle, knows the answer). Thanks to its position in the Union, main bar is entirely free from any adolescents at lunch time and it is a welcome respite to any student pursuing a social life exclusively within the St Andrews student “bubble.”
The Cheesy Toast Shack
This is a relatively new venture that does business on East Sands serving toasties and other light lunch options to all and sundry. It has proven a hit in its two-and-a-half-year long lifetime and has even been featured on Sky News for its successful approach to the classic grilled cheese combo. This is a food shack par excellence, and St Andrews is proud to count it among its number of eating houses. However, I must confess that I have never been here on a weekday lunchtime, and I am only assuming that it is not frequented by the blue blazer brigade due to its distance from the three streets. I may be entirely incorrect, and you should not take my word for this. It is, however, a lovely place to eat.
Described on its own website as “the perfect place to eat, drink, and socialise,” the Adamson embodies all the qualities that people expect in the stereotype of a St Andrews student. This hotel provides a fine fare for those seeking to enjoy a sumptuous repast in a refined setting all the while staying well clear of the midday mass of teenagers. While the bill will certainly be higher than most high-street meal deals, surely the relative serenity justifies to the extra cost.
The Old Course Hotel
Perhaps the most off-piste recommendation so far, the Old Course Hotel is nonetheless an extremely valid option for the hungry student looking for sustenance away from the noontime queues. The exquisitely named Hall of Champions can host up to 240 diners with ample room for a band and dance floor. Why settle for a boring lunch of a cold wrap, coke, and crisps when you can eat, drink, and make merry until your 2 pm tutorial? Some say that an early afternoon reeling session is the best way to relieve term time stress. While this certainly seems like one of the finest, and most logical, suggestions in this list there are some obvious drawbacks: Firstly, a group of 200+ is required to properly take advantage of this facility. However, this should not be an issue once your friends realise how much more agreeable this is to queueing in Tesco’s for a whole five minutes. Secondly, this venue is a fair walk out of the centre, so any arts students should plan to leave slightly early in order to make it to their lectures on time. Overall, this is a very attractive option and is tragically under utilised.
The New Club, Edinburgh
Why bother having lunch in St Andrews at all? You will never encounter the market street rush if you are not even in the same county as the great horde of juveniles. Take a scenic train journey to the stunning capital and lunch in this exclusive private members’ club with impressive views over Prince’s Street and magnificent oak panelling. All that is required for membership is the nomination and seconding of two current members, after which you will never have to endure the long lines and adolescent jibber-jabber that characterises the average St Andrews weekday lunchtime. To add to this already fantastic deal, the club’s enviable reciprocal list entitles you to similar facilities across the globe. Dinner in Paris, anyone? Truly, this is the most rational choice for the discerning diner.
As St Andrews students, we must remember a few things when it comes to our meal time schedules: Firstly, during state banquets there is no need to buy food whatsoever as that will all be provided at the Palace. Of course, this is on the proviso that you have a royal friend. (Honestly, if you have been here any longer than a year and you do not yet know a single royal, what are you doing?)
Secondly, if you are looking for more of an evening affair it might be wisest to join a private dining club. One might consider groups such as XXI, the Strafford, the Kensington, the Kennel, and everyone’s favourite Kate Kennedy Club. Of course, these are just starter clubs and should not be considered the be-all-and-end-all for the experienced St Andrean bon vivant. Finally, while it would certainly be easier to travel to the New Club via private helicopter or chauffeured luxury car, the Saint is a newspaper thoroughly committed to environmental issues and so we can only suggest public transport for such a journey.
In conclusion, there are many options open for the average student# who just wants to get their food and go, free from obstruction and the smell of Lynx Africa. If you are still attached to the idea of a Tesco meal deal, it might be best to wait until the school half terms and stock-pile them at that time. Otherwise, if you want to try something new, and you are excited by the possibilities presented in this article: bon appétit.